50 Pak families ‘staying’ in Udhampur
1 March 2002
The Daily Excelsior
Jammu: Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) members today expressed serious concern in the State Assembly over the encroachment of Forest land by militants in the State and sought a categorical reply from the Government that what steps are being taken to vacate this land from their occupation. Raising a supplementary to the question of his party colleague Hans Raj Dogra, BJP chief legislature party leader Lala Shiv Charan Gupta said over 50 immigrant families, many of whom were Pakistanis had encroached the forest land in Kalwa area in Udhampur district. These immigrants were involved in several militancy related incident and were also responsible for the recent killing of six members in the area, he alleged. He wanted to know what steps the State Government was taking to restore the forest land. Earlier replying to the question of Hans Raj Dogra, the Minister of Forests, Peerzada Ghulam Ahmed Shah said that 709 hectares and two acres of forest land has been encroached after the militancy spurt in the State in 1989. He said before the eruption of militancy in the state 7,536 hectares of forest land were encroached in Jammu region and 7,668 in Kashmir valley. He said, however, the Government has issued initial eviction notices to these land grabbers under J&K Forest Act and the Revenue Department has been approached for providing revenue records so that eviction proceedings will be launched. In the areas where such records are not available the settlement has been requested. Besides, he said the staff is on the alert to ensure that no encroachment on the forest land takes place and in the areas where there is apprehension of encroachment the fencing has been made. However not satisfied with the reply the MLA wanted to know what action Government was going to take in eviction of land grabbers from Bhatindi and Narwal areas. The Minister said during this year 1200 hectares of forest land has been restored in Jammu and 1100 hectares in Kashmir valley. On this another supplementary was raised by Caharing Durbjee of Congress. Seeing that members are not satisfied with the Minister’s reply the Speaker Mr A A Vakil intervened saying that 33 per cent of the available land was under the forests in 1947 which has been now reduced to 11 per cent. He said the Government has assured that all steps are being taken to protect the forest land but it can not do any thing alone and needs the cooperation from the public in this regard.